SEATTLE — In a sea of 7,000 fans, controversial TV and radio talk-show host Glenn Beck took his crusade to Safeco Field Saturday, saying he is the voice of reason in a divided America.
“I am a flawed human being,” said Beck, 45. “But I’m in a position to ring the bell of warning.”
Beck, sponsored by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, came to Seattle amid a torrent of anger over his proclamation on July 28 that President Obama was a racist and he believed the president has a “deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”
Outside the stadium, about 30 protesters rallied against Beck.
Beck didn’t criticize Obama in his hour-long talk, and spoke more about how both political parties are flawed. “We send these people to Washington and they go crazy on us,” said Beck, as his supporters cheered and waved yellow flags with the words “Don’t Tread on Me.”
He spoke of growing up in the Northwest and said his grandmother told him wherever he went, he had to tell people how much it rains here, to discourage people from moving to Washington state.
“I told her, it does rain here,” Beck said, to laughter. He added his grandfather said, “All these people are too weird for Californians to move up here.”
He criticized the media and said it “has surrendered to this government we have now. The American people have not surrendered.”
He also talked about how he once worked in an advertising campaign for General Motors, but stopped doing commercials to protest the automaker’s federal bailout.
Beck acknowledged the nation’s health-care system needs repair, but a higher priority for the government is to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring our soldiers home.
Robin Goodspeed traveled from Portland, Ore., to hear Beck speak and called his talk inspiring.
“He has the courage to tell the truth and is not afraid to talk about God. He inspires Americans to get back in touch with what makes this a great country.”
Hal Gunn of Ocean Shores, Wash., agreed.
“He’s a voice of reason in America in a time of craziness. He’s a voice of harmony.”
Dave Higgins of Gig Harbor, Wash., said he liked Beck’s message. America needs to watch its spending so its children aren’t saddled with debt.
As Beck fans streamed into Safeco Field, protesters outside yelled, “Save your souls, don’t go in.”
Don Sly of Seattle held a huge, tongue-in-cheek sign that said, “Sure he’s an idiot bigot, but he’s our idiot bigot, Welcome Glenn.”
Sly said he came to Safeco because he wanted to express the concern many people have with the conservative movement in this country. Sly said he has no issues with Beck calling the president a racist, but criticized him for not backing up his assertions.
“He’s perfectly free to (call Obama a racist) if he can back it up,” he said.
Daniel Stevens of Seattle, protesting outside Safeco Field, said Beck is one of the worst people in the country and racism should not be allowed run rampant in America.
Not all were against the media personality, though.
Craig Hartmann of Redmond, Wash., who was standing in line to buy tickets, said Beck speaks a lot of truth.
“He’s not a racist,” Hartman said. “The race card being played by the left side of the aisle is wrong.”
Sponsors of Beck’s talk said it was sold out and some people had to be turned away.
Saturday night, Beck, a Mount Vernon, Wash., native, was to be presented a key to the city by the mayor of Mount Vernon, even as members of the City Council voted to distance themselves from the event. It passed a resolution on Wednesday saying, “Mount Vernon City Council is in no way sponsoring the Mayor’s event on Sept. 26, 2009, and is not connected to the Glenn Beck event in any manner.”
According to Beck’s Web site, he began his radio career when he was 13 and worked at various radio stations around the country after graduating from Bellingham’s Sehome High School. The Glenn Beck Program now appears on more than 350 radio stations.